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Some Common Medical Mistakes Frightening for Patients

Medical mistakes cost lives, In the U.S., every year, it is estimated that as many as a quarter of a million people are killed each year by medical malpractice. That’s over 20,000 each month. Millions more suffer serious and painful injuries from medical errors. One doctor states that he believes that medical malpractice may well be the third leading cause of death in the nation. Some of the most shocking medical mistakes are also extremely common.

During surgery, it has become a commonplace occurrence for a doctor or other member of the surgical team to accidently leave a sponge or even a surgical instrument inside the patient’s body, where it causes swelling, infection and pain and may require a second invasive surgical procedure to remove and retrieve. One cause of this is the failure of medical personnel to county carefully the number of such items to make sure that they are all accounted for. Patients experiencing unexpected swelling or pain following an operation may have been victims of this all too common error.

In some instances, doctors or other medical personnel in hospitals have provided a treatment to the wrong patient, which can lead to immense harm when the treatment is not appropriate for a person’s condition. Patients and their families should insist on the staff double-checking the patient’s identity before providing medication or beginning a procedure, to make sure they are giving it to the intended person. A good safeguard is checking the patient’s birth date, full name, and hospital wrist barcode to make sure that they are who the doctor or nurse thinks they are.

Unbelievably enough, there have been reports of unlicensed doctors, and outright con artists with little or no medical training whatsoever misrepresenting themselves as healers, preying on the public to get their hands on money, including from insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid billing while providing “treatments” of no benefit or which are actually harmful and dangerous. It can save a patient’s life in some instances to go online to confirm with a state licensing board that a doctor’s credentials are bona fide.

At some busy medical facilities patients suffering from dementia might wander off from their assigned rooms and become lost or actually trapped in the labyrinth of the building’s basement or lower levels. Sometimes such patients have not been found for hours or even days, and may by then become dehydrated of suffer from hypothermia from exposure. Such measures as GPS devices worn on an ankle or arm may be needed to make sure that this doesn't happen.

Other common sources of medical errors are overcrowded hospital emergency rooms where patients needing immediate emergency care may go overlooked, operations carried out on the wrong part of the body, such as the right leg instead of the left, hoes in a patient which remain after the removal of an air tube not being adequately sealed (which can result in air bubbles going into a wound and cutting off the blood supply to a vital organ, a potentially fatal; error), or the failure of some hospital personnel to perform basic hygiene, such as washing their hands, spreading infection from one patient to another.